Thursday, October 25, 2012

A sickening statistic: 58% of Israeli Jews support apartheid in Israel



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Bilal Tamimi sent me a note of clarification of Tuesday’s post: Janna’s song here.

“Just a small note: the name of the man who was killed is Mustafa Tamimi 27 years old.

The words of the poem Janna was speaking are:

All your armies all your fighters?
All your armies, all your fighters
All your tanks, and all your soldiers
Against a boy ..holding a stone
Standing there ... all alone
In his eyes ..I see the sun
In his smile ..I see the moon
And I wonder, I only wonder
Who is weak, and who is strong?
Who is right, and who is wrong?
And I wish, I only wish
That the truth has a tongue

Bilal Tamimi”

Stone-throwing against tanks is David against Goliath…

***

In the lead story in Haaretz Monday, “Survey: Most Israeli Jews advocate discrimination against Arab citizens,” Gideon Levy reports that a majority of the Israeli population now shamelessly endorses apartheid in Israel. (October 23, 2012).

“Most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it annexes the West Bank. A majority is also explicitly in favor of discrimination against the state’s Arab citizens a survey shows.”

This is the other side of an Israel of freedom and democracy for Jews, a Jewish state. It is, in a sad Palestinian witticism, a democratic state for Jews and a Jewish state for Palestinians.

This regime, startlingly, mirrors the racism Europeans tended to practice toward Jews in the 19th and early 20th century. Why Jews tolerate such an attitude is hard, at least for me as a longstanding anti-racist and anti-fascist, to understand. And I have, these past two weeks, been startled at the facts on the ground – see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Gideon Levy reports the survey carefully, but comments on what this means in a separate editorial below. I give his article with a few brief comments and then the editorial. This is not what others say about Israel; it is the sad self-conception of a majority of Israeli Jews.

“The survey conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposed anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews. The survey was commissioned by the New Israel Fund’s Yisraela Goldblum Fund and is based on a sample of 503 interviewees. The questions were written by a group of academia-based peace and civil rights activists. Dialog is headed by Tel Aviv University Prof. Camila Fuchs.

The majority of the Jewish public, 59 percent, wants preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries. Almost half the Jews, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones, 42 percent don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children.

A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and a large majority of 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.”

Even Gideon Levy calls Palestinians Arabs until this point. But the term is dangerous. It suggests, falsely, as Israel’s leaders have suggested, that they can go be with the other Arabs and leave the land of Israel – falsely asserted to be a land without people – to the Jews.

But Palestinians are not generic Arabs. They are Palestinians whose homes were on that very land. This is the injustice that Israel must deal with – make peace about – and instead, is striving increasingly for a second Transfer. Netanyahu wants, as Jimmy Carter noted Monday, a one state solution, an apartheid state or a state without Palestinians...

Levy continues:

“A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. A quarter – 24 per cent – believes separate roads are ‘a good situation’ and 50 per cent believe they are a ‘necessary situation.’

Almost half – 47 percent – want part of Israel’s Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and 36 percent support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA [Palestinian Authority] in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements.

Although the territories have not been annexed, most of the Jewish public (58%) already believes Israel practices apartheid against Arabs. Only 31 percent think such a system is not in force here. Over a third (38 percent) of the Jewish public wants Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them, while 48% object.”

One should honor here the 48% who remember enough of the ideas of equal freedom, democracy, and decency to object.

“The survey distinguishes among various communities in Israeli society – secular, observant, religious, ultra-Orthodox and former Soviet immigrants. The ultra-Orthodox, in contrast to those who described themselves as religious or observant, hold the most extreme positions against Palestinians. An overwhelming majority (83%) of Haredim are in favor of segregated roads and 71 percent are in favor of transfer.

The ultra-Orthodox are also the most anti-Arab group – 70 percent of them support legally barring Israeli Arabs from voting, 82 percent support preferential treatment from the state toward Jews, and 95 percent are in favor of discrimination against Arabs in admission to workplaces.”

The ultra-Orthodox do not serve in the army, a source of tension with others in Israeli society. Men are exalted, women are to care for children. Members of the sect often, like the New Jersey “pilgrim” David Wilder, do no work except arm against, speak against and fear Palestinians. A sign in Jerusalem says “Guns and Moses,” and mostly others carry the guns for which this sect exhibits such zeal…

Levy continues:

“The group classifying itself as religious is the second most anti-Arab. New immigrants from former Soviet states are closer in their views of Palestinians to secular Israelis, and are far less radical than the religious and Haredi groups. However, the number of people who answered ‘don’t know’ in the ‘Russian’ community was higher than any other.

The Russians register the highest rate of satisfaction with life in Israel (77 percent) and the secular Israelis the lowest – only 63 percent. On average, 69 per cent of Israelis are satisfied with life in Israel.

Secular Israelis appear to be the least racist – 68% of them would not mind having Arab neighbors in their apartment building, 73% percent would not mind Arab students in their children’s class and 50 per cent believe Arabs should not be discriminated against in admission to workplaces.

The survey indicates that a third to half of Jewish Israelis want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens. An even larger majority wants to live in an apartheid state if Israel annexes the territories.”

In the foreign policy Presidential debate, both Obama and Romney stressed that Israel is the main US ally in the Middle East. Neither mentioned the Palestinians or the settlements in the West Bank (Obama did point out Romney’s “visit” to Israel as a fundraising event – his subservience, like Netanyahu’s to the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson). Many politicians of both parties zealously advocate for Likud expansionism (the Republicans, who have abandoned a two state solution, in the lead).

Do they mean to support, for American purposes, an apartheid state? Obama once tried to stop the expansion of settlements. On this issue (as on Iran), if pressed from below, he offers some hope of sanity.

Levy adds:

“The survey conductors say perhaps the term ‘apartheid’ was not clear enough to some interviewees. However, the interviewees did not object strongly to describing Israel’s character as ”apartheid” already today, without annexing the territories.

That is worth taking in: ”the interviews did not object strongly to describing Israel’s character as ‘apartheid’ already today, without annexing the territories.”

“Only 31 percent objected to calling Israel an ’apartheid state’ and said ’there’s no apartheid at all.’”

Sadly, I have seen and described the reality in previoius posts that these Jewish Israelis live behind a wall of their own illusions. Those who endorse apartheid are doing something just as bad.

Levy continues:

“In contrast, 39 percent believe apartheid is practiced ‘in a few fields’; 19 percent believe ‘there’s apartheid in many fields’ and 11 percent do not know.

The ‘Russians’ as the survey calls them, display the most objection to classifying their new country as an apartheid state. A third of them – 35 percent – believe Israel practices no apartheid at all, compared to 28 percent of the secular and ultra-Orthodox communities, 27 percent of the religious and 30 percent of the observant Jews who hold that view. Altogether, 58 percent of all the groups believe Israel practices apartheid ‘in a few fields’ or ‘in many fields.’

Interviews were asked whether ‘a famous American author [who] is boycotting Israel, claiming it practices apartheid should be boycotted or invited to Israel. About half (48 per cent said she should be invited to Israel, 23 percent suggest no response and only 15 percent call to boycott her.

Here is Gideon Levy’s editorial from p. 2 of yesterday’s Haaretz:

Apartheid without shame or guilt

We're racists, the Israelis are saying, we practice apartheid and we even want to live in an apartheid state. Yes, this is Israel.

By Gideon Levy | Oct.23, 2012 | 1:32 AM |

The program would not reproduce the photograph:
Arab Israeli activists protest an upcoming wine festival to be held in the courtyard of Be'er Sheva's oldest mosque. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz

As elections draw near, the season of public opinion surveys is upon us. But here is a survey that is more disturbing and significant in its revelations than those informing us whether Yair Lapid is taking off or Ehud Barak is crashing in the polls.

This one lays bare an image of Israeli society, and the picture is a very, very sick one. Now it is not just critics at home and abroad, but Israelis themselves who are openly, shamelessly, and guiltlessly defining themselves as nationalistic racists.

We're racists, the Israelis are saying, we practice apartheid and we even want to live in an apartheid state. Yes, this is Israel.

Among its terrifying results, the survey discovers a certain innocent candor. The Israelis admit this is what they are and they're not ashamed of it. Such surveys have been held before, but Israelis have never appeared so pleased with themselves, even when they admit their racism. Most of them think Israel is a good place to live in and most of them think this is a racist state.

It's good to live in this country, most Israelis say, not despite its racism, but perhaps because of it. If such a survey were released about the attitude to Jews in a European state, Israel would have raised hell. When it comes to us, the rules don't apply.

The "Jewish" part of "Jewish democracy" has won big time. The "Jewish" gave "democracy" a knockout, smashing it to the canvas. Israelis want more and more Jewish and less and less democracy. From now on don't say Jewish democracy. There's no such thing, of course. There cannot be. From now on say Jewish state, only Jewish, for Jews alone. Democracy - sure, why not. But for Jews only.

Because that's what the majority wants. Because that's how the majority defines its state. The majority doesn't want Arabs to vote for the Knesset, Arab neighbors at home or Arab students at school. Let our camp be pure - as clean of Arabs as possible and perhaps even more so.

The majority wants segregated roads in the West Bank and does not flinch in the face of the implications. Even the historic connotation does not bother it in the slightest. It wants discrimination in the workplace and it wants transfer. Enough with the whitewashing and pretense. This is what we want. Because that's the way we are.

The right will probably attack the New Israel Fund for commissioning the survey. Gevalt! It will screech. Leftists, Israel-haters. But the right's hollering will not change the result. This was done by a reliable, well-known polling firm. Besides, what's wrong with the survey? What didn't we know before, apart from the loss of shame? Let the right prove that this is not the way we are, that most Israelis want to live with Arabs. That most of them see Arabs as people like themselves, their equals in rights and opportunities. Let's see them prove it wrong. That would be a true cause for celebration. “

Amen! But it will take a big movement from below, in Israel and here in the United States, to produce such a transformation.

“The survey," Levy continues, “does not only confront Israelis with their present, but with their future as well. This appears to be the survey conductors' main goal. It tells them: You wanted settlements, you wanted occupation, you want Netanyahu and you've done nothing for the two-state solution, and it's died. Now let's see what's the alternative.

The alternative, as every infant knows, is one state. One state? Most Israelis say it will be an apartheid state, yet are doing nothing to prevent it. Some of them even want it. They don't even ask, Where are we going? Where are we being led? What's the vision for the next 10, 20 years? Well, if all goes well, if all continues the way it is now, the Israelis know the answer and it's a bitter one indeed.

Until then, the image of Israel 2012 is this: We don't want Arabs, don't want Palestinians, don't want equality, and the hell with all the rest.
Values-shmalues, morals-shmorals. Democracy and international law - those are matters for anti-Semites, not us. We will vote for Netanyahu again, recite that we're the only-democracy-in-the-Middle-East and wail that the whole world is against us.”

***

And here is the report on the poll from the Guardian:

Israeli poll finds majority in favour of 'apartheid' policies

Two-thirds say Palestinians should not be allowed to vote if West Bank was annexed, while three in four favour segregated roads

• Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
• guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 23 October 2012 16.14 EDT

[the program would not reproduce the photograph]
Israeli soldiers walk past a settlement in the West Bank. Almost six in 10 Israeli Jews said the country already practised apartheid. Photograph: Majdi Mohammed/AP

More than two-thirds of Israeli Jews say that 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank should be denied the right to vote if the area was annexed by Israel, in effect endorsing an apartheid state, according to an opinion poll reported in Haaretz.

Three out of four are in favour of segregated roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, and 58% believe Israel already practises apartheid against Palestinians, the poll found.

A third want Arab citizens within Israel to be banned from voting in elections to the country's parliament. Almost six out of 10 say Jews should be given preference to Arabs in government jobs, 49% say Jewish citizens should be treated better than Arabs, 42% would not want to live in the same building as Arabs and the same number do not want their children going to school with Arabs.

A commentary by Gideon Levy, which accompanied the results of the poll, described the findings as disturbing. "Israelis themselves … are openly, shamelessly and guiltlessly defining themselves as nationalistic racists," he wrote.

"It's good to live in this country, most Israelis say, not despite its racism, but perhaps because of it. If such a survey were released about the attitude to Jews in a European state, Israel would have raised hell. When it comes to us, the rules don't apply."

The poll was conducted by a public opinion firm, Dialog, which interviewed 503 people out of an Israeli Jewish population of just under 6 million.

Talk of the possible annexation of the West Bank, or the main settlement blocks within it, has increased in recent months as expectations of a negotiated settlement to the conflict have sunk to an all-time low. Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, recently argued for the annexation of land between the internationally recognised Green Line and the Israeli-built separation barrier.

The poll results will bolster the claim of Israel's Arab citizens, who make up 20% of the population, that they suffer from racist discrimination. Almost half the poll's respondents said Israeli Arabs should be transferred to the Palestinian Authority, and a third said that Arab towns in Israel should be moved to the PA's jurisdiction in exchange for Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

According to the Haaretz report, the survey found that ultra-Orthodox Jews held the most extreme views about Arabs, with 70% supporting a legal ban on voting rights and 95% backing discrimination against Arabs in the workplace.”

The noxious practices our delegation has seen on the ground steam up into the bigotry of most Israeli Jews. These are not inheritors of the slaves who left Egypt to find freedom. Instead, they worship kings. They are not the prophets who stand up for justice and truth.

Will they really live safely with a war on Iran?

With an apartheid state in which the Palestinians will soon outnumber them?

Will they be pressed, losing the large and inevitable conflict that will follow Israeli (or Romney) aggression, to use nuclear weapons?

For all of us, radiation knows no borders.

They are new, self-destructive worshippers of imitation Pharoahs.

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